Biogen and Icahn Duel Again, Marinus Gets $20M, Vigilance Urged on Patent Reform, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

4/15/09

It was a relatively quiet week for New England’s life sciences firms, but with earnings reports from several key players due at the end of this week I’m guessing the next roundup will be a doozy.

—Cambridge, MA-based Cerulean Pharma named Oliver Fetzer, a former executive at Lexington, MA-based Cubist Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:CBST), as its new CEO. Fetzer takes over the post from Alan Crane, a venture partner at Polaris Venture Partners in Waltham, MA, and the founding CEO of Cerulean, which is developing nanoparticle-based drugs for cancer and other diseases.

—Ryan chronicled the transformation of Lisa and Eric Chamberlain from special effects experts to medical model makers. Now with the help of their growing company, The Chamberlain Group in Great Barrington, MA, the wife-and-husband team use a combination of imaging, computer-graphics, 3-D printing, and materials technologies to make beating hearts, sinuses, and a host of other highly realistic simulacra for the likes of Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX), Medtronic (NYSE:MDT), and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

—Xconomist David Resnick, the team leader of the Biotechnology/Chemistry team at Nixon Peabody in Boston, urged vigilance as patent reform legislation wends its way through Washington. A Senate version of the bill now excludes a controversial provision that could damage the life sciences industry, he writes, but the House may reinstitute it when it comes up with its own version of the bill.

—Branford, CT-based Marinus Pharmaceuticals raised $20 million in a Series B round of financing from Canaan Partners, Domain Associates, Foundation Medical Partners, Sofinnova Ventures, and other return investors. Marinus will use the money to develop its lead drug candidate, ganaxolone, as an additional treatment for refractory partial seizures and other conditions.

—Luke took inventory of the facts and rumors surrounding billionaire investor Carl Icahn’s latest attempt to gain control of Cambridge, MA-based Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB), and analyzed the context in which Icahn is nominating four people for election to Biogen’s board, urging the company to reincorporate in North Dakota, and attempting to freeze the board size at 13.

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